Candles of hope burn for Mandela

2013-06-28 10:59

Candles of hope flickered outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria this morning for former president Nelson Mandela.

After a night of prayer services, an anxious nation waited for news from the presidency about his condition. The presidency yesterday said Mandela was still critically ill, but had shown an improvement and his condition was stable.

Unlike in previous days, activity outside the hospital was a little slower today, but the police were still in place, and Celliers Street remained cordoned off to traffic. Passing office workers and foreign visitors paused to read a 15-metre long wall of messages, in the form of get-well notes and home-made cards, and to look at the bunches of flowers left for Mandela.

US President Barack Obama was expected in the country later today.

His office has said he will take direction from the family on whether he should visit Mandela, who was admitted with a recurring lung infection on June 8.

Cleaners worked steadily to remove candle wax and sweep away dried petals and litter left by the massive gathering of people overnight.

Prayer meetings for Mandela spread across the country, but attention remained focused on the hospital, where relatives of South Africa’s first, democratically-elected president have had to make their way through a growing swell of people to reach the entrance.

Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela has criticised the media, especially the foreign media, which she called “vultures” in an SABC television interview yesterday.

She said people should wait for the presidency’s updates on Mandela’s condition.

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